Need a little rocking in your stocking? Chris Jericho has you covered. The AEW champ talks with us EXCLUSIVELY about his rockin’ cover of ‘Father Christmas,’ his thoughts on Ozzy’s new music, and more.
Let’s face it. Christmas music, for the most part, does not rock. Sure, there are the Angry Snowmans, the Vandals’ Oi To The World, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s version of “Carol of the Bells.” Other than that, the season is practically a winter wasteland for rockers, punks, and metalheads. Thankfully, Chris Jericho has decided to spike your eggnog with a “little bit of the bubbly” by offering relief from the inescapable onslaught of tracks like “Last Christmas,” “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and “Wonderful Christmas Time.” The Fozzy frontman has recruited his own crew of “Santa’s Helpers,” The Christmas Helves, to record a cover of The Kinks’ classic, “Father Christmas.”
It’s the perfect example of a cover done right. While staying faithful to the 1977 original, it avoids the pitfalls of being too faithful. The 2019 version also gives the lyrics a much-needed update, turning the line about The Six-Million Dollar Man “Steve Austin Outfit” into a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin t-shirt. It also cranks up the intensity so you can headbang along while dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife, the current All Elite Wrestling champion chatted about the motivation behind “Father Christmas,” the upcoming Fozzy album, and his thoughts on the new song from metal god Ozzy Osbourne.
HollywoodLife: Do you remember the first time you heard the original “Father Christmas”?
No, man. It’s one of those songs that I’ve heard for years on the radio. It’s not like it touched my life or anything like that. It’s just always a very killer tune — much like a lot of the Kinks’ 70s songs, like “Superman,” “Low Budget,” and those types of tunes. So, when I wanted to do a Christmas song, it was the first one that popped in my head, because it’s a great rocking tune that hasn’t been completely overdone by other artists at this point.
Yeah, there’s only so many times you can do “Jingle Bells.”
Well, so many times, you can do a “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, one of the most annoyingly catchy songs ever.
There’s only a handful of great Christmas songs, especially great Christmas rock songs. So, you’ll hear that McCartney song 15 times over the year along with the “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” by [Bruce] Springsteen. I thought, “well, let me give you another option if you want something a little different.”
You bring up a good point. There are a few hard-rocking Christmas songs out there. While listening to your version of “Father Christmas,” it reminded me of one of my favorite songs, and that’s “No Presents For Xmas” by King Diamond.
[laughs] Well, there you go. There are a few original Christmas rock songs. “No Presents for Christmas” by King, and then “Reason for the Season” by Stryper. So those are two other originals. But other than that, you don’t get a lot of original Christmas rock songs, for sure.
Yeah. Twisted Sister did “Heavy Metal Christmas” and Lemmy did a version of “Run, Rudolph, Run.”
Like I said, there’s a lot of covers, right? And I think Twisted Sister are actually smart. They did a whole Christmas album and got some great steam out of it. When Christmas time comes, there are only so many bands that have Christmas songs. There are a couple tribute records, where you get the shake and bake bands, the all-star bands. Where Lemmy‘s on vocals and Jack Blaze is on bass. Frankie Banali‘s on drums, or whatever, they come up with that sort of thing.
I wanted to do one that was just a full band, and I actually wanted to do it with Fozzy, but we’re doing a new record right now. It just wasn’t time-wise in the cards. So, I thought this will be great to just put together some of my friends, and do a “Chris Jericho and friends” type of thing. Chris Jericho and the Christmas Helves, which worked out great. We were able to bang it out in a day, day, and a half, two days, and put it together.
It’s hard to believe that it took such a short time to put the song together. The fine touches really make the song, like the metal solo at the breakdown near the end.
Well, that’s the thing, too. Because I put it together with friends of mine who are great musicians but aren’t professional musicians. When you give them a chance to do something that’s going to be played on the radio, and that people are going to be listening to, they put a lot of work into it, and they worked fast. Everybody involved with the Christmas Helves was super excited to be a part of it, and you can hear that in the song.
It’s a kickass song that’ll liven up the season and do a lot of good. All proceeds from “Father Christmas” go towards the Juvenile Diabetes Research funding. In an earlier interview, you revealed that two of your children have Type 1 diabetes. So, was this project something you wanted to do for a while, to lend your talents for a good cause?
Yeah, how much money is there to be made doing a Christmas song? I don’t know. But I thought, whatever it is, let’s put it towards a good cause. And more importantly, that will entice people to maybe check it out, or heaven forbid, actually buy it in this day and age when everything’s streaming, and everything is YouTube. Which is cool, too.
But if you do actually buy this from iTunes, know that the proceeds will go to a great cause that means a lot to me. I thought it made a little bit more personal and made it a little more Christmas-like. We’re giving something back, and also putting together a great rock and roll tune.
Andy Williams of Every Time I Die just debuted for All Elite Wrestling. Have you had a chance to talk and chat music with him, yet?
I just saw him briefly. I had no idea he was in Every Time I Die. I had no idea at all until someone pointed it out after the show, and I was like, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know.” I had no idea that one of the dudes from that band was wrestling, so congratulations to him. If he’s there this week, I’ll definitely make a point of going to say hi, for sure.
Are there a lot of music buffs in the AEW locker room?
I think everybody likes music in their own way, but there’s a music buff, and then there’s me who’s just completely off my rocker when it comes to music. You don’t find guys like that, you find them in different places. As far as actually in the AEW locker room, not a lot. I know [Jon] Moxley is a pretty musical type guy. But yeah, not really a lot of music discussion going on at this point in time.
So we shouldn’t hold our breath for a possible update to The Wrestling Album from you guys?
Nor would there ever be. And if there was, I wouldn’t be involved. I got too much rock and roll of my own to do than to do a cover of “Land of a Thousand Dances.”
You do have new music coming out. Your next album, 2020, will be released that year. It’s your first on Sony, so how has it been working on that label?
It’s been great, man. It’s kind of a different world for us now because back in the previous days, you put an album out, and then you’d pull a single from it, and then you release everything all at once. It’s not like that in this day and age. Sony wanted us to put out a single, which we did, “Nowhere to Run.” And even though there’s no album to promote, they wanted a song. That’s kind of where we’re at nowadays, where it’s more about the song, and then you worry about the record when it’s ready, just keep the momentum going.
It worked out great. We were excited to know that Sony was very much into us. Continue the momentum that we had from the Judas record, and here we are. We’re working on 2020, and I think at this point in time we’re probably going to have that out in the first quarter of the year. Still, no rush. When the time comes for another single, we’ll have that ready, and if the album isn’t ready, that’s okay. Because as long as the singles keep coming, then Sony’s happy about that, and we will now do whatever they want us to do because they kind of know what they’re doing.
Last time you spoke with HollywoodLife, you took umbrage with Ozzy Osborne listing The Ultimate Sin as his least favorite solo album. You argued that Scream, Down to Earth, or Black Rain deserves that dubious title. Do you still stick by that?
I can’t tell him what he thinks he doesn’t like the best, but I still think that Scream is probably my least favorite Ozzy album. It’s the one that I’ve listened to the least.
I wasn’t too keen on the songwriting. There are some good songs on it. I think “Let Me Hear You Scream” is a good one, and I think “Diggin’ Me Down’ [is good too.] But yeah, I never really listened to it much. I never really got into Gus G as a guitar player for Ozzy. My opinion is the last Ozzy record, and the one before it [Black Rain], were a little bit suspect, especially without having Zakk Wylde on guitar.
But I will say this: “Under the Graveyard” is a great tune, and the guitar player on that record, Kevin Watt, did a great job of not being Zakk Wylde and doing something completely different for an Ozzy record. Doing more of a Black Country Communion type of vibe, Airborne type of thing. Wolfmother type of a solo. And I thought that fit really, really well. I was excited about that tune, and the follow-up “Straight to Hell” is really cool. I’m excited to hear what they’ve put together for the new Ozzy record, for sure.
Are you doing anything special for Christmas this year? Are you going to leave out ‘a little bit of the bubbly’ for Santa?
Depends, man, if Santa’s just like me and rather have the bubbly. There’s only so much milk you can drink over the course of an evening. There’s like 10 million homes in the world. That’s 10 million glasses of milk. That’s a lot. So, I’ll always leave a little bit of an extra shot of vodka, something a little bit different in case Santa’s sick of the milk. Instead of cookies too, too many cookies, put some apples out for him to kind of cleanse the palette.
If your palette is sick of the sweet sounds of the season, purchase “Father Christmas” by Chris Jericho & the Christmas Helves. You can catch Chris Jericho on The Rock Of Jericho on SiriusXM Octane, on the Talk Is Jericho podcast, and weekly on TNT as part of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite.